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Venice by Day

On the bus we go to the same wharf we’d been to the night before, and board the boat. This time, it takes us to the Murano Glass showroom on Giudecca Island, where we are shown a glass-blowing demonstration. A master glass-blower pulls a glowing ball of glass on a long hollow tube from a furnace. He shapes it by blowing through the tube, and pulling it with pincers and by holding it against the surface of a bench. In a couple of minutes, he has shaped a cute little vase with handles. He sets it down while he begins his next creation.

Our host, dressed in a beautiful suit, explains to us that the glass pieces need to be tempered and gradually cooled over several hours, otherwise they shatter. Sure enough, a few minutes later, the vase cracks and falls to pieces. Also, they have only a limited amount of time to shape the glass before it cools too much, so they have to work very quickly.

The craftsman’s next piece is a prancing horse, which he shapes in about 2 minutes. Very impressive!

Unfortunately we are not allowed to take photos in the showroom, due to “copyright.” Pity, I was hoping to get some ideas for Carmel.

The showroom is spectacular. They have the most amazing elegant works of glass art – beautiful fat swirls of liquid paused in time, opulent chandeliers, prancing horses, serene zebras, colourful dishes, exquisite intricate glasses moulded with gold – how I would love to take a set of those home. They also have pretty but very expensive glass beads and glass jewellery, just like what I can get from Carmel at a fraction of the price.

A couple of people from the tour splurge on some pieces, but most of us just admire them, and Steve jokes about ordering a chandelier for his place in Brisbane.

We reboard the boat and motor out to the main part of Venice, where we’d been the night before. Now we can see what the crowds are like. There are people everywhere. Even getting across the footbridges requires dodging and weaving. Ashley lead us up to St Mark’s square, where he leaves us to wander and fill in time for a couple of hours. We are advised to get lost, then find our way back to the square by following signs.

I team up with Jen, Linda (mother and daughter) Jenny, Debbie and Steve. The first thing we want to do is get coffee and food. We figure the cheaper cafes will be away from the square and away from water views, so follow Steve, our navigator, up, down and across alleys until we find a cafe that sells bread rolls and coffee. We all order coffee and the others order breadrolls, while I order tiramisu. My tiramisu is disappointing – frozen in the middle, just like the one I was served for dinner the night before. Life’s hard.

The other girls aren’t interested in exploring, but I’m keen to make my way to the Rialto Bridge, so I split from them and go walkies, following the signs. Making my way anywhere is hard going, hindered by crowds. It’s a hot day, too, and silly me had brought a big jacket with me that I carry around the whole time. I reach the bridge and have a half-hearted browse of the markets. Back in Florence, I’d seen boxer shorts with the boy parts of Michelangelo’s David printed on them, but when I saw them we were rushing for the bus, so I didn’t have time to buy. I fantasise about boarding the bus wearing them over my jeans, but alas, I can’t find any in Venice.

Finding a loo in most of the cities we’ve been in has been an ongoing bother. There seem to be very few public toilets, and those that are available you have to pay for. The other alternative is to buy coffee or food in a cafe or restaurant and then you are entitled to use their loos. But if you don’t need food, it’s a problem.

I’m tired of walking and go to our meeting place with time to spare. I need to pee and spot some signs “W.C.” painted on the pavement, with an arrow. I follow the signs along the promenade and down a number of alleys until I find a public loo. A bit like a treasure hunt. I pay Madame Pee Pee (not sure what they call her in Italy) and gratefully relieve myself. I find my way back to the dock and sit on steps on a bridge while I wait for the boat.

Our next destination is the island of Burano. Burano is famous for lace-making and colourful houses. Apparently it’s a tradition for all the members of a family to paint their houses in the same colour. If they move house and someone from a different family moves in, they repaint it in the new family colour. This makes for a delightfully colourful village. The houses on Burano are very pretty, painted with random bright colours and flower boxes and washing hanging from windows and in the streets, sometimes even amongst shops.

We follow Ashley past the shops selling lace tablecloths, scarves, masks and other tourist trinkets, down the street and over a bridge to a restaurant where we are to have a late lunch. We go right to the back of a long restaurant where we sit at long tables and are served a multi-course seafood lunch. The salt and pepper calamari is to-die-for. Jen says the battered fish is, too, but I’m too full and pass mine off to her. I was considering not drinking since wine puts me to sleep in the daytime, but I taste the wine and it is so nice I indulge in a glass. We have some time for shopping and I buy myself an aqua lace scarf. Feeling very full, I go back to the wharf. A wind has whipped up, and finally I put on the jacket I’d carried around all day.

When we return to the hotel, I’m still very full, and exhausted. I hang out in my tiny room with the single bed, sorting out my iPad, until I finally go to bed around 10 o’clock.